6,000 evacuated in Taiwan as typhoon hits

TAIPEI, Taiwan  — A powerful typhoon ripped into Taiwan on Sunday, crippling transportation around the island and prompting the evacuation of thousands of residents from mountainous areas prone to devastating landslides.

Typhoon Fanapi, the first major storm to strike the island this year, made landfall in the eastern city of Hualien at 8:40 a.m. (0040 GMT), packing winds of 89 mph (144 kph) and churning its way westward toward China at a speed of 12 mph (20 kph), the Central Weather Bureau said.

The bureau said the typhoon had dumped as much as 15 inches (391 millimeters) of rain in southern Taiwan as of noon (0400 GMT), with much more to come.

Officials evacuated 6,000 residents from remote areas vulnerable to landslides, half of them in the southern part of the island, according to Taiwan's Central Emergency Operation Center. Landslides caused by torrential rains are traditionally the greatest danger the typhoons bring to this island of 23 million people, which is riven by a series of tall mountains and narrow valleys dotted with hundreds of isolated farming communities.

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